The simple-cycle process is the starting point for natural-gas-fired power generation. Clean-burning natural gas powers a combustion turbine, which is connected directly to a generator that produces electricity. Some of Calpine’s power plants, particularly in the eastern United States, are also equipped to produce power from ultra-low-sulfur fuel oil when market conditions warrant.
A combustion turbine in a power plant is similar to a jet engine on an airplane. The process starts as air flows through intake structures, where it is filtered before entering the combustion turbine. The air then enters the gas turbine, where it is compressed, mixed with natural gas and ignited, which causes it to expand. The pressure created from this expansion spins the turbine blades, which are attached to a drive shaft and generator, creating electricity.
Some of Calpine’s plants operate in simple-cycle mode only. They ramp up quickly and provide power during periods of high demand. Others integrate steam turbines and/or cogeneration technologies to improve efficiency and increase generation capacity.